#131: Same Surgeon, Different Light: Dr. Allan Pickens

March 31, 2022

In this episode, Dr. Tom Varghese interviews Dr. Allan Pickens, a leading thoracic surgeon from Emory University in Atlanta. Listeners will discover interesting personal details such as Dr. Pickens, along with his five siblings, grew up on a farm in a rural Alabama town. That farm is where he began shaping his extraordinary work ethic. With parents who strongly encouraged good grades and required college after high school, Dr. Pickens always made schoolwork a priority. A high performing student, he was recruited in 6th grade to participate in a special program through the Macy Foundation. This is when Dr. Pickens was first inspired to pursue a career in medicine. Eventually he decided on cardiothoracic surgery. “I enjoy the technical components of surgery and the immediate impact on patient care, and I’m fascinated by chest physiology.” Dr. Pickens shares that growing up in rural Alabama did not provide much opportunity for physician mentorship, especially for minorities. “Finding mentors took some work,” he says. Dr. Pickens discusses some of the challenges he’s faced, and how these personal experiences motivated him to “want to give back” and “be involved in the educational process” for underrepresented individuals. “Same Surgeon, Different Light” is a program from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons designed to demystify cardiothoracic surgery, revealing the men and women behind their surgical masks.